365 Days of Album Recommendations – July 24

Cesária Évora – Café Atlantico

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I’m going on a lil’ international theme with recommendations this week, and I’m starting off with what is unquestionably one of my #DesertIslandDiscs.

For this recommendation, we go to Cape Verde, the home of Cesária Évora, the Queen of Morna. This album actually broadens her international palate, reflecting the multi-cultural influences of her port home.

The arrangements still hew to the traditional, but they’re a bit lusher than on previous releases, and it suits Cesária’s voice wonderfully, drawing out the world-weary beauty, even as the songs largely keep their playful rhythms going.

Where this album touches me most deeply is with the torchiest songs; Cesária is a master balladeer, wringing so much beauty and pathos out of every note.

Fans of Horace Silver might feel a familiarity with some of these melodies; his father was Cape Verdean, and Horace pulled on a lot of that history to inform some of his most signature tunes.

Some critics have drawn parallels between the music of Cesária Évora, and the songs featured on the Buena Vista Social Club collection; in some respects that’s not a poor juxtaposition—there are similarities both narratively and sonically, and if you like the one it’s likely you’ll like the other, methinks—but ultimately, Cesária is a force unlike any other.

I simply love this album, and have since the moment I first heard it.


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